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Northamptonshire PEEL 2014

Legitimacy

Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?

Last updated 12/11/2014
Ungraded

 

Northamptonshire Police has a well-established professional standards department including a small anti-corruption unit. The force has made good progress since the last HMIC inspection. The chief constable and all the chief officers show clear leadership on the importance of values, ethics and personal behaviour.

 

Further insights on legitimacy

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013) found that the proportion of respondents who think that the force does an excellent/good job was broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period found that the proportion that agree the force deals with local concerns was broadly in line with the figure for England and Wales. The force’s own victim satisfaction survey (12 months to June 2014) found that the proportion of victims that were satisfied with their experience was broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales.

The crime data integrity inspection found that staff taking calls from the public, and those directing officers to calls for service, were mindful of the importance of a victim-centred approach. However, this emphasis was not matched in other operational areas beyond some specialist investigations. The inspection on domestic abuse found that Northamptonshire was generally effective at identifying domestic abuse victims at the first point of contact. However, some staff in the control room had not received sufficient training in identifying victims of domestic abuse and there was a general lack of understanding as to how the force defined a repeat victim, and of the factors that may make a victim particularly vulnerable. Thorough checks were made in the control room to identify any previous police involvement at the address or with the people concerned and officers attending the incident were given the full picture of any previous history of abuse.

As a result of the crime data integrity inspection HMIC is seriously concerned that a notable proportion of reports of crime are not being recorded, and this means that victims of crime are not receiving the service they should when they first report a crime. HMIC is also concerned with the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime) as too many of these are incorrect. The force needs to take action to improve, serve the victims of these crimes and provide the public with confidence in the force’s crime data.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

To what extent does the force ensure that the workforce acts with integrity?

Staff are aware of their responsibilities to challenge and report misconduct and unprofessional behaviour. There is a clear plan to ensure the Code of Ethics is fully understood and applied across the force and staff are aware of this. Training is delivered in a variety of ways including in person and using computer-based training. HMIC found good knowledge and understanding of policies, the supporting procedures and individual responsibilities. The police and crime commissioner is provided with sufficient information for independent oversight, and the professional standards department performance is part of the force governance process. The force has a structured ‘lessons learned’ process that makes use of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) ‘Learning the Lessons’ bulletin.

The force has a small anti-corruption team that conducts reactive research, analysis and investigation activity, but does not have sufficient capacity to complete proactive work to identify threat, harm or risk from corruption. HMIC found consistent assessment of the severity of the risks and rational decisions being made concerning intelligence development. However, there are some gaps in the accountability and auditing of decisions and there is a lack of management capacity at the inspecting rank. The force has tasking and co-ordination processes in place but there are some gaps that the force needs to fill. The force does not ensure that organised crime investigations are free from potential compromise and does not corruption-proof forthcoming operations to reduce the risk of compromise.

Ungraded
2

What are the public perceptions of the force?

HMIC considers that there are two sources of data that give an insight into the public’s perceptions of their police force: the Crime Survey for England and Wales, and the Victim Satisfaction Survey.

The data for Northamptonshire Police show that:

Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)

  • 58 percent of adults surveyed think that the police do an excellent/good job, which is broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales of 61 percent.
  • 59 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales of 60 percent.

Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)

  • 85.9 percent (± 2.3 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales of 85.0 percent (± 0.2 percent).

Ungraded
3

To what extent does the force respond to calls for service appropriately?

The value for money inspection found the force had set a clear performance standard for response times, and these had remained the same since 2010. However, the force was unable to provide data for 2010/11, so it was not possible to assess whether performance against these standards had improved or declined since then.

The crime data integrity inspection found that staff taking calls from the public, and those directing officers to calls for service, were mindful of the importance of a victim-centred approach. However, this emphasis was not matched in other operational areas beyond some specialist investigations.

The domestic abuse inspection found that Northamptonshire Police was generally effective at identifying domestic abuse victims at the first point of contact. Thorough checks were made in the control room to identify any previous police involvement at the address or with the people concerned. The effectiveness of the initial identification and risk assessment relied entirely on the skills and expertise of the call-handler and the quality of their supervision. Some staff in the control room had not received sufficient training in identifying victims of domestic abuse and there was a general lack of understanding as to how the force defined a repeat victim, and of the factors that may make a victim particularly vulnerable. The control room gave the officers attending the incident the full picture of any previous history of abuse, helping them to make a proper assessment of the situation when they arrive.

Ungraded
4

To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?

The crime data integrity inspection examined 106 incident records and found that 82 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 82 crimes that should have been recorded, 65 were. This was of material concern as it meant that some victims’ crimes were not being recorded and they were not getting the service they deserved (because, for example, certain victim support services are only triggered when a crime is recorded).

The force also had a centralised crime-recording unit through which HMIC estimated that the force recorded approximately 15 percent of the total of their recorded crime. This unit recorded reports of crime directly from members of the public which did not require the creation of an incident record. Our inspection of this unit (a review of 23 calls from the public) found that of the 23 crimes that should have been recorded, all 23 were recorded correctly. This was an effective approach to crime-recording for the force.

The inspection also examined 90 no-crime records and found 55 records to be compliant with Home Office Counting Rules and the National Crime Recording Standard. As the no-crime records the inspection reviewed related to offences of rape, robbery and violence, this was a matter of serious concern.

Ungraded